Which of these IT projects face the Tory axe?

Labour tech for the chop if Cameron and co get in

We know the general thrust of the Conservative take on government IT projects: money-sapping failure.

It's a position that dovetails nicely with another favourite line of opposition parties in the run-up to a general election -- that such initiatives are a bureaucratic waste of time and money and should be eradicated to fund front-line services/tax cuts/deficit reduction (delete as appropriate).

But when it comes down to it, which of the many Whitehall IT projects would a Tory government ditch?

The technology website silicon.com has delivered an interesting piece of research in an attempt to answer just that question.

Of the 11 big projects introduced by Labour since 1997, two will definitely be axed, five have a low chance of survival, one is in the balance and three should survive:

1. The National Programme for IT Chance of survival: Low
2. ID cards Chance of survival: None
3. ContactPoint Chance of survival: None
4. FiReControl Chance of survival: Low
5. The National DNA Database Chance of survival: High
6. Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act Chance of survival: Low
7. Interception Modernisation Programme Chance of survival: Low
8. Digital Britain Chance of survival: Low
9. e-Borders Chance of survival: Medium
10. Police Central e-Crime Unit Chance of survival: High
11. Defence Information Infrastructure Chance of survival: High

 

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Jon Bernstein, former deputy editor of New Statesman, is a digital strategist and editor. He tweets @Jon_Bernstein. 

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The big problem for the NHS? Local government cuts

Even a U-Turn on planned cuts to the service itself will still leave the NHS under heavy pressure. 

38Degrees has uncovered a series of grisly plans for the NHS over the coming years. Among the highlights: severe cuts to frontline services at the Midland Metropolitan Hospital, including but limited to the closure of its Accident and Emergency department. Elsewhere, one of three hospitals in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland are to be shuttered, while there will be cuts to acute services in Suffolk and North East Essex.

These cuts come despite an additional £8bn annual cash injection into the NHS, characterised as the bare minimum needed by Simon Stevens, the head of NHS England.

The cuts are outlined in draft sustainability and transformation plans (STP) that will be approved in October before kicking off a period of wider consultation.

The problem for the NHS is twofold: although its funding remains ringfenced, healthcare inflation means that in reality, the health service requires above-inflation increases to stand still. But the second, bigger problem aren’t cuts to the NHS but to the rest of government spending, particularly local government cuts.

That has seen more pressure on hospital beds as outpatients who require further non-emergency care have nowhere to go, increasing lifestyle problems as cash-strapped councils either close or increase prices at subsidised local authority gyms, build on green space to make the best out of Britain’s booming property market, and cut other corners to manage the growing backlog of devolved cuts.

All of which means even a bigger supply of cash for the NHS than the £8bn promised at the last election – even the bonanza pledged by Vote Leave in the referendum, in fact – will still find itself disappearing down the cracks left by cuts elsewhere. 

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. He usually writes about politics.